Dylan Covey found his way back to the majors after two years in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, including pitching one game for the Dodgers in a chaotic time for a very-injured pitching staff.
The Dodgers signed Covey to a minor league contract in January that included a non-roster invitation to spring training, after putting up a 3.63 ERA in two years pitching for Rakuten in Taiwan.
The veteran right-hander started the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City and did well, including a stretch of four outings with three total earned runs allowed. Covey had a 4.22 ERA with OKC, but considering the Pacific Coast League ERA was 5.70, he was doing just fine.
In the majors, mid-May was a rough time for Dodgers pitchers. Noah Syndergaard was in the midst of blister issues on his pitching hand, Clayton Kershaw was fatigued after carrying the staff for the first six weeks of the season and was dealing with the death of his mother, and a 12-inning game against the Twins on May 15 further strained an already taxed bullpen.
Covey was called up from Triple-A on May 17 because the Dodgers were in desperate need of a fresh arm, but little did they know just how much he would be needed immediately.
Dustin May pitched only one inning that day against the Twins, felled by an elbow injury that would eventually require surgery and knock him out for the season (and likely most if not all of 2024 as well). Covey was pressed into emergency duty and performed admirably, allowing only a solo home run in his first four innings of work. He induced seven groundouts and struck out three, and even had a 2-1 lead.
Covey was asked to pitch a fifth inning and the wheels came off. He allowed a solo home run to old friend Joey Gallo to open the frame, then two singles and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out. Victor González relieved Covey and amazingly stranded everybody, keeping the game tied. But even with the bumpy final frame, Covey did his job in the emergency outing.
The problem was this game did little to sate the Dodgers’ need for innings, and the quest for a fresh arm brought two more call-ups the next day. Covey was the odd man out, designated for assignment.
May 17 was the first career game at Dodger Stadium for the 31-year-old Covey, who grew up in Pasadena and played prep baseball at Maranatha High School.
“It was really special. I grew up 15 minutes up the road, I grew up a Dodger fan,” Covey told reporters after the game, per SportsNet LA. “A couple years ago I didn’t ever think I’d ever be back in this situation. It’s really special playing for my hometown team. My family’s here and got to see me, it’s just special.”
He was claimed off waivers by the Phillies on May 20, and spent the rest of the season in Philadelphia’s bullpen. He had a 3.69 ERA and 4.26 FIP for the Phillies in 39 innings over 28 games, with 27 strikeouts and 16 walks. Covey was placed on the injured list with low back pain during the final weekend of the regular season, and was not on the roster for either the NLDS nor NLCS.
With the Phillies, Covey faced the Dodgers once, pitching a perfect inning with two strikeouts at Citizens Bank Park on June 10.
Covey wore uniform number 33 during spring training, and number 29 in the regular season with the Dodgers.
Stats: 1 G, 4 IP, 2 R, 3 K with Dodgers
Covey is currently on the Phillies’ 40-man roster.